The unprecedented staging of four 2018 Canadian curling championships, an extravaganza billed as Curl4Canada, gets underway Saturday at Leduc, Alta.
All four events are being held in the Leduc Recreation Centre complex:
- U SPORTS-Curling Canada University Championships, March 24-28, www.curling.ca/2018university
- Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA)-Curling Canada Championships, March 24-28, www.curling.ca/2018college
- Canadian Wheelchair Championship, March 26-April 1, www.curling.ca/2018wheelchair
- Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship, March 28-April 1, www.curling.ca/2018mixeddoubles
The U SPORTS-CC, CCAA-CC and Canadian Mixed Doubles Championships will be played in the Recreation Centre’s twin arenas — Ken’s Furniture Arena and Robinson Arena —while the Canadian Wheelchair Championship is scheduled for the eight-sheet BMO Centre, as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations for the curling club.
It will be the 11th edition of the U SPORTS-Curling Canada Championships, and the second time it’s been held in Alberta. The 2010 event was staged in the Saville Community Sports Centre at Edmonton. Once again, the University of Alberta will be the official host school. This year’s winners will represent Canada in the 2019 Winter Universiade at Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
Topping the men’s lineup are the University of Winnipeg Wesmen’s JT Ryan and University of Alberta Golden Bears’ Karsten Sturmay of Edmonton, both of whom skipped provincial teams in the 2018 New Holland Canadian Juniors at Shawinigan, Que. Ryan won a bronze medal after losing the semifinal to defending champion and recent world junior gold-medallist Tyler Tardi of B.C. Sturmay lost a tiebreaker to Tardi but is a two-time silver medallist in the U Sports-CC Championships.
Ryan’s team also includes Kyle Doering and Rob Gordon, 2016 Canadian junior champions and world juniors bronze-medallists when playing with Matt Dunstone.
The women’s field is headed by Queen’s Golden Gaels’ (Kingston, Ont.) Mary Fay, University of Alberta Pandas’ Kristen Streifel and Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack’s (Kamloops, B.C.) Corryn Brown.
Fay won the 2016 Canadian and world junior titles when representing Nova Scotia, as well as a gold medal in the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Mixed Team competition. Streifel won the 2017 Canadian Juniors, and a bronze medal at both the World Juniors and the U SPORTS-CC Championship, while Brown, the 2013 Canadian Junior champion, has twice won silver medals at the U SPORTS-CC championship, along with long-time teammates Erin Pincott and Sam Fisher.
Streifel’s third is Danielle Schmiemann, who won the 2015 Canadian and World Juniors, 2016 U SPORTS-CC championship and 2017 Winter Universiade when playing third for Kelsey Rocque.
Last year’s event, held at Thunder Bay, Ont., was won by Memorial University Sea-Hawks (St. John’s) in men’s and Laurentian University Voyageurs (Sudbury, Ont.) in women’s. Since 2008, Memorial University Sea-Hawks, Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (Waterloo, Ont.) and University of Alberta Golden Bears (Edmonton) are each two-time winners in men’s. In women’s, Wilfrid Laurier has won four women’s crowns, while the University of Alberta Pandas are two-time winners.
For the first time, the CCAA Championships, for colleges and institutes, will be staged with the support of Curling Canada. It’s the 14th CCAA nationals, which initially ran from 1984 through 1990, was then discontinued until being resurrected in 2012.
It will be the second straight year the CCAA Championships have been held in Alberta. Last year, at the University of Alberta-Augustana at Camrose, Red Deer College Queens and Fanshawe College Falcons won the women’s and men’s gold medals, respectively.
Among this year’s participants is Sterling Middleton, third for Daniel Wenzek of the Douglas Royals (New Westminster, B.C.), a two-time Canadian junior champion and recent world junior gold medallist while playing third for Tyler Tardi, and a gold medallist at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. Chelsea Brandwood, who skipped Ontario to a silver medal in the 2015 Canadian Juniors, is skipping the Niagara Knights (Welland, Ont.).
Since 2012, London, Ont.-based Fanshawe has won a leading two men’s and three women’s titles.
Both the U SPORTS-CC and CCAA Championships feature eight men’s and eight women’s teams in a round robin leading to playoffs.
The Canadian Wheelchair Championship will be staged in Alberta for just the second time in its 15-year history. The 2011 event was held in the Jasper Place Curling Club at Edmonton and won by Manitoba’s Chris Sobkowicz.
Ten teams will compete, and among the familiar faces are three-time Canadian champions Darryl Neighbour of B.C. and Manitoba’s Dennis Thiessen, 2013 Canadian champion Benoit Lessard of Quebec and the 2012 title-holders from Saskatchewan, skipped by Darwin Bender. Neighbour is also a two-time world and Olympic champion while Thiessen, the defending Canadian champion who competed in the recent Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, finishing with a bronze medal (he played second for Team Canada), is a one-time world and Olympic champion.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship returns to the city where the event made its debut in 2013 at the BMO Centre, when won by Quebec’s Robert Desjardins and Isabelle Néron.
The 32-team competition lineup includes the husband and wife tandem of Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing, along with last year’s champions and world mixed doubles silver medallists Joanne Courtney and Reid Carruthers. Jones, the 2014 Olympic gold medallist, and six-time Scotties champ, is currently skipping Team Canada in the 2018 Ford World Women’s at North Bay, seeking her second world title, after claiming the 2008 championship. Laing is a three-time world men’s champion.
Other well-known curlers include the pairings of Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson, Cathy Overton-Clapham and Matt Dunstone, Dana Ferguson and John Epping, Marliese Kasner and Dustin Kalthoff, Nancy Martin and Steve Laycock, 2016 champ Jocelyn Peterman, paired with Derek Samagalski because her regular partner Brett Gallant is competing in the World Men’s at Las Vegas with Team Canada skip Brad Gushue, Laura Crocker and Kirk Muyres, who replaces her regular partner Geoff Walker, since he, too, is at the World Men’s with Gushue, 2015 winners Kalynn Park and Charley Thomas, 2014 champions Kim and Wayne Tuck, 2017 Canadian Mixed winning skip Trevor Bonot (paired with Amanda Gates) and 2013 winner Robert Desjardins.
While not playing, Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris, 2018 Olympic gold medallists in the debut of Mixed Doubles at Pyeongchang, South Korea last month, will make a special media and public appearance on March 28, when the championship gets underway.
The winner of the 2018 Canadian Mixed Doubles will represent Canada in the 2018 World Mixed Doubles Championship, April 21-28 at Östersund, Sweden.
CBC Sports will live stream various games from all championships during the preliminary rounds as well as several finals. You can watch at cbcsports.ca or via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android.
Draw results and event information for all four championships are available at www.curling.ca.